Doctor Who Review: "The Rings Of Akhaten"
I can often see why New Who resists fans desires to do alien worlds every episode. They take a lot of extra resources to achieve. Costume. Design. SFX....and pressure to place them on par with expensive American productions. Gotta say this week we were treated to a real showcase.
Neil Cross – hailing from the land of the Kiwis - unarguably has a great imagination, and his first contribution to Who was allowed to fly unhindered which proved to be the episode’s strength and weakness. We had more aliens than at a Comic Con and Mos Eisley -- going around trading their psychometric treasures for all manner of exotic stuff. A very believable culture wrapped in mysticism. And yes, singing. Now I have to say I did cringe at the singing; I mean any star-sized demi-God would no doubt prefer to stay asleep, not waking up to hear some tone-deaf custodian who can’t wrap his tonsils around a few bars from the Sound of Music.
The visuals of the habitable star and its multiple rings were really top notch – and even through we got another bike chase (hopefully not a reoccurring theme) it was well handled; although at times I could see SFX’s faults as the visuals blurred too much showing the limited realistic sets around the “green screens.” And I have to say that I wasn’t scared by the Mummy one iota, and its shame newbies, the Vigil, didn’t get a chance to breathe either.
However, the true strength of the story was its role as a Clara centric episode. We got a lot of back-story to Clara’s beginnings –the significance of the leaf in her book and yeah it was nice to see the Doctor with his Amy’s glasses reading the Beano - but morbid, too, as Clara also realizes at the end of the story he’s been checking up on her past. The thing here is that for now there doesn’t seem to be any real magical significance to her life. She was born in a normal home, had a lovely mum who died relatively young and yet something still sets her apart in the Universe -- nagging the Doctor to find out what her mystery is, even camping out at her mom’s funeral. Oh, and yeah, the Tardis doesn’t seem to like her. Never been picky before.
More visual feast than riveting story; its best parts were the character elements and the defiant Doctor’s speech. I look forward to Neil’s ghost story, but having said that, I more so look forward to "Cold War" with the return of the Martians!